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Golf legend Nelson dies
02:51 PM CDT on Tuesday, September 26, 2006
By BRAD TOWNSEND / The Dallas Morning News
DAVID WOO / DMN
Byron Nelson Golf legend and Roanoke resident Byron Nelson, a man revered for his benevolence and humility as much as his on-course accomplishment, died Tuesday at the age of 94.
According to a family friend, Nelson died at his home around noon. He is survived by his wife of nearly 20 years, Peggy.
To local golf fans, he was a home-grown institution. His golf life was a folk tale that spanned eight decades - from when he learned to play as a 12-year-old caddie at Fort Worth's Glen Garden Country Club to his decades as the grandfatherly namesake of Irving's Byron Nelson Classic.
To national golf fans and historians, he was Lord Byron, owner of three of golf's oldest, most exalted and, many believe, least breakable records.
Nelson amassed 18 victories during the 1945 season. During one stretch that year he won 11 consecutive starts, a run that dwarfs golf's next-best streak, six. But the record Nelson always called his most satisfying was the 113 consecutive cuts he made during the 1940s.
Nelson won five major championships: The 1937 and 1942 Masters, the 1940 and 1945 PGA Championships and the 1939 U.S. Open.
Even his swing was the stuff of legend. As wood-shafted golf clubs were being converted to steel, he was the first notable player to incorporate his feet and legs for extra power. He is widely credited as being the father of the modern swing, to the extent that the U.S. Golf Association's club-testing apparatus is called the "Iron Byron."
"Byron is an icon of golf," said eight-time major champion Tom Watson, Nelson's longtime friend and protégé. "But more important, he was a good man, in the true sense of the word."